Last week, we wrote about the FCC fining stations for a number of violations found at the studios of some broadcast stations. In these same cases, the FCC also found a number of technical violations at the tower sites of some of the same stations. Issues for which fines were issued included the failure to have an locked fence around an AM station’s tower, the failure of stations to be operating at the power for which they were authorized, and the failure to have a station’s Studio Transmitter Link operating on its licensed frequency.
An issue found in two case was the failure to operate at the power specified on the station’s license. In one case, an AM station simply seemed to not be switching to its nighttime power – in other words, at sunset, it was not reducing power from the power authorized for its daytime operations. The second case was one where another AM station was not switching to its nighttime antenna pattern after dark. In that case, there were apparently issues with the nighttime antenna but, rather than request special temporary authority from the FCC to operate with reduced power until the problem was fixed, the FCC notes that the station apparently just kept operating with its daytime power. An STA is not difficult to obtain when there is a technical issue (as the FCC does not want stations going dark if it can be avoided), and some effort is made to specify a power that avoids interference to other stations. So, if faced with technical problems, request authority for operations that are different from those authorized by the station’s license until those problems can be fixed, or risk a fine from the Commission.